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Improve Your English Outside the Classroom

So, you want to improve your English skills quickly, at home or on the go? Then look no further, because Brighter English has some fantastic advice for fast-tracking your language learning capabilities. It can sometimes feel confusing to know where to start with self-study, especially when there is so much information and advice out there to digest, so here are our top tips and top picks for language learning success!

Make use of your media

The easiest place to start is to look at the resources all around you. Do you own a laptop, smartphone or have access to a great library? If so, you have all the tools you need to progress your home learning.

Why not take advantage of that Netflix account to watch English TV series and films? You can support your learning by using the subtitle options, building up your listening confidence by reading them in your native language first, and, when you feel comfortable, switching to English so you are reading and listening at the same time. Make the most of the time you have each day by listening to English songs, radio stations or audiobooks when you’re doing housework, having a shower or walking to work or school. Explore your school or city library for English books and magazines, or download eBooks onto your Kindle, and read widely. Choose books and topics that you enjoy because enjoyment adds to motivation and memorability. Reading outside of the classroom should be for pleasure - it’s hard to learn when you’re bored!

Note it down!

Treat yourself to a smart new notebook and use it to record new vocabulary you encounter when you’re reading or listening. Organising it into topics, whether it’s food nouns or functional phrases for opinion, is not only great from a reference point of view, it has also been proven that words stick in your memory better if you group them together. You could even use brightly coloured post-it notes of vocabulary items and stick them to objects around your home, or buy a notice board and pin vocabulary items or phrases to it. Remember, the more you encounter a word or phrase, the more likely you are to retain the information and recall it quickly.

Practice makes perfect

If you’re looking to supplement your school studies, try not to forget our simplest and most important advice, which is do your homework! We all know that homework can be frustrating at times, but teachers know better than anyone that repetition aids retention – you will be able to remember new things much better if you practise something you’ve just learnt after the class has finished.

When you’re doing your homework, try to avoid translator apps and websites. While a translator can be a useful tool for decoding individual words and short phrases, it’s much better to use an English learner dictionary because you can see how a word is used in the context of a sentence, which will help you to better understand its meaning. If you are completing a research task as part of your home study, Simple English Wikipedia could be a great place to start. It’s written specifically for language learners so you’ll find all of the detailed information you need, but with simpler grammar and vocabulary to make it easier to absorb.

Coming soon...

Don’t forget to come back and check out Part 2: how to get the most out of studying online. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your recommendations for self-study! How do you like to learn English in your free time? What helps to keep you motivated when you’re studying on your own? Drop us a comment in the box below or on our Facebook page to help our community of language learners discover a new study technique!

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